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Suffolk County Supreme Court Says Plaintiff Must Prove “Vicious Tendencies” in Dog Bite Case


This case involves the plaintiff Meridith Dow and the defendants Carol Anne Dow, Laurence Beck, and the Buddy Project for Animal Rescue Inc. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York located in Suffolk County. The judge hearing the case is Arthur G. Pitts.

The defendants in this case have made a motion and a cross motion for summary judgment to dismiss the complaints that have been made against them by the plaintiff. They state that they cannot be held liable for the injuries that the plaintiff sustained as they did not own or control the dog. The plaintiff has made a cross move for a partial summary judgment in her favor on the liability issues as it is relevant to all of the defendants.

Case Background

The plaintiff has started this case against the defendants to recover damages from a dog bite that she sustained. The dog that bit her was a Rottweiler and had lived in the animal shelter for most of its life. The dog had been adopted, but was returned to the shelter after it bitsomeone. The Buddy Project for Animal Rescue, one of the defendants in the case, had the task of finding a new home for the dog. Carol Anne Dow assisted the Buddy Project by offering to house the dog temporarily at her home. The dog was to live in her home until money was raised to have the dog trained.

The other defendant in the case, Laurence Beck was a volunteer who was assisting the project by transporting the dog. On the tenth of June, Beck went to the shelter, filled out the necessary paperwork, and then transported the dog to the home of defendant Dow. The dog was taken care of by Carol Anne Dow as well as other volunteers from the project.

On the 20th of June, the dog bit Meredith Dow, the daughter of the defendant Carol Anne Dow. Meredith did not live with her mother and only met the dog for a short time before the incident occurred.

Court Discussion and Decision

In order for a plaintiff to receive recovery from a dog bite the plaintiff must prove that the dog had previous vicious tendencies and that the owner knew of these vicious tendencies prior to the attack.

In this case, defendant Laurence Beck did not prove that he did not own or control the dog in question. He admitted to signing adoption papers and a document that stated that the dog had bitten someone previously. For this reason the motion for summary judgment for defendant Beck is denied.

The defendant Dow failed to demonstrate that she did not own or control the dog in question as well. She testified that she was providing the dog with a home temporarily and that the dog lived with her at the time the incident occurred. For these reasons, the motion for summary judgment for defendant Dow is denied.

The final defendant, the Buddy Project also failed to prove that they did not have control or ownership of the dog. There was no evidence given to refute the fact that the Buddy Project was in charge of the dog and the volunteers helping the dog. For these reasons the motion for summary judgment for defendant the Buddy Project is denied as well.

The plaintiff’s cross motion for summary judgment in the issue of liability is also denied as the arguments are redundant.


f you have been bitten by a dog or other animal, contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss your case. Our offices are located in New York City and you may call to set up a free consultation at any time.

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